American Oceans

All You Need to Know About The Sargasso Sea

In our world, there are many strange and mysterious places that we have yet to fully understand. From the lush thickets of the Amazon rainforest to the icy plains of Antarctica, our planet is still as unknown to us as it was centuries ago. 

Arguably one of the most alien places on earth is the ocean, which is commonly known for its cold and unpredictable nature.

Although we still know so little about this watery behemoth, we have spent hundreds of years charting its various seas, giving them names and titles that have remained to this day.

Of course, some of these titles include famous names such as the Atlantic Ocean or the Red Sea, but what about the lesser-known areas of our planet’s blue abyss? 

Down below, we have gathered some interesting information concerning the Sargasso Sea, as well as its various origins and myths. So if you want to know more about this forgotten part of the ocean, then we have all the facts that you will ever need. 

What Is The Sargasso Sea?

The Sargasso Sea is a large patch of ocean that is named after a species of free-floating seaweed called Sargassum. Unlike other types of algae found in the ocean, Sargassum is unique in that it is a holopelagi, which means that the seaweed not only floats freely around the ocean but also reproduces on the surface of the water.

This is in stark contrast to other species of seaweed, which will commonly begin their life cycle at the bottom of the sea. 

Because the water contains such high amounts of free-floating matter, the Sargasso Sea has become the home to a variety of distinctive marine creatures, who have all evolved to use the algae to their own advantage.

Some of the most common creatures found in the Sargasso Sea include turtles, crabs, shrimps, white marlin, dolphinfish, porbeagle sharks and even a species of endangered eel. 

Is Bermuda In The Sargasso Sea?

The Sargasso sea is known to cover a large portion of the ocean, with the weedy territory extending from 30 to 70 degrees west and 20 to 35 degrees north.

Not only is the sea detached from any major coastlines or countries, but it is also bounded on all sides by ocean currents, which essentially isolate it from the rest of the world.

However, this does not mean that the sea is completely free from any landmass, as it is known to contain the island of Bermuda, which can be found among the Sargasso’s western fringes. 

Because of this association, The Sargasso Sea is known to make up one part of the area known as the Bermuda Triangle, making it the recurring subject of various myths and legends.

Although many boats and freights have been known to pass through the sea without any issue, the algaefied waters are still said to contain the skeletal remains of various sailing ships that sank in the area decades before.

But don’t worry, we’ll address this subject in more detail later on. 

Is The Sargasso Sea Warm?

Is The Sargasso Sea Warm

Beyond the Sargasso Sea’s high levels of seaweed and its overall mysterious nature, the area is also unique in that its waters remain warm and calm for most of the year.

Because the Sargasso Sea is surrounded on all sides by ocean currents, it would be safe to assume that the sea’s temperatures are constantly in flux.

Especially when you consider that one of these currents includes the cold and harsh waters of the North Atlantic. However, this is not the case. 

By some strange and unexplained phenomenon, the Sargasso Sea manages to stay warm for long periods during the year and is famously known for its constantly stable weather conditions, which can make sailing both efficient and easy.

However, this does not mean that the area does not come with some added dangers, as the Sargasso Sea is known to yield very weak and calm winds, which can leave boats stranded if they are unable to pick up. 

Why Did Sailors Fear The Sargasso Sea?

Because of its strange and oceanic conditions, the Sargasso Sea has often been featured as the primary subject in a variety of nautical legends, with the area often being cited as a place of danger and peril.

Although it is unclear when these superstitions first began, many people believe that it can be attributed to explorers such as Christopher Columbus, who wrote in detail about his experience with the sea and its large amounts of Sargassum. 

In his diaries, Columbus wrote at length about how he feared the Sargasso Sea because of its blankets of seaweed, which he believed were hiding dangerous coral reefs, which were capable of sinking unsuspecting ships.

Although this fear was admittedly warranted in 1492, any fears or superstitions surrounding Sargassum were later debunked in the 1940s, when a scientific publication classed the substance as a holopelagic plant. 

However, this does not mean that the Sargasso Sea’s negative connotations begin and end with the seaweed, as the area’s location has also been cited as a primary reason for its fearful reputation.

Because the Sargasso Sea has no coastline or boundaries, it would have been very difficult to navigate upon being first discovered, which probably resulted in many ships sinking or getting lost.

These days, modern sailors are able to chart the waters by using other oceanic features, which help to define the sea’s location and scope. 

Is It Safe To Swim In Sargassum?

Although going for a swim in the ocean is not an uncommon pastime, we understand that the notion of swimming through a forest of seaweed may seem like a daunting task.

However, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to meeting Sargassum in the water.

When encountered in its natural environment, Sargassum is completely harmless to humans, although it has been known to sometimes obstruct our vision and create confined and claustrophobic conditions. 

However, this does not mean that Sargassum poses no threat to human lives, as the seaweed has been known to be particularly toxic once it has been exposed to large amounts of sunlight and oxygen.

When Sargassum gets washed up on the beach, it will usually begin to decompose, which can result in the weed producing a gas called hydrogen sulfide.

Although this gas is harmless in small quantities, prolonged human exposure can result in sickness and immediate death. 

Are All Eels Born In The Sargasso Sea?

Although the Sargasso Sea is known to be a popular spawning ground for eels, this does not mean that all eel species are born there.

To date, the only species of eel known to inhabit the Sargasso Sea are the European variety, which will often migrate to the warm waters when they are ready to mate and reproduce. 

Because of this many people assume that the sea is home to a variety of different eels, which is not the case at all.

In fact, no one has ever seen a spawning eel in the Sargasso Sea, and the revelation that they go there to reproduce was only confirmed by scientists after they discovered that the waters were populated by baby eels. 

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